I am sharing the very sad news that Prof. David Lipsky of Cornell University, luminary in the world of labor and employment ADR and personal mentor to me earlier in my career, passed away last week at the age of 83. His obituary describes his many achievements both in our field and for Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.  I had the distinct pleasure of guest-lecturing in his class many years ago, and he provided me with valuable advice about teaching and writing in the ADR sphere. May he rest in peace.
Continue Reading In memoriam: David Lipsky

The word of the month for January is “freudenfreude.” Freudenfreude, as explained in this New York Times article, is the opposite of schadenfreude.
Whereas schadenfreude is defined as “the pleasure we feel when witnessing someone’s misfortune” (presumably, someone we think deserves their misfortune), freudenfreude is rejoicing in someone else’s happiness.
Freudenfreude is associated with numerous benefits:
Erika Weisz, an empathy researcher and postdoctoral fellow in psychology at Harvard University, said the feeling closely resembles positive empathy — the ability to experience someone else’s positive emotions. A small 2021 study examined positive empathy’s role in daily life and found that
Continue Reading January: Freudenfreude

The Center for Negotiation & Dispute Resolution (CNDR) at UC Law San Francisco (formerly UC Hastings College of Law), in collaboration with key institutional partners, is putting on an ADR Speaker Series with some terrific guests who will be presenting on cutting edge issues relating to negotiation, mediation, and international arbitration. All except two sessions will be both in person and via Zoom (the two will be via Zoom only).  The first session with Bob Mnookin is happening next week – Tues. Jan. 24, at 12:00 p.m. PT!  The remaining sessions will start at 5:15 p.m. PT on selected Tuesdays. 
Continue Reading 2023 ADR Speaker Series at UC Law SF

Kevin McCarthy’s quest to become speaker of the House of Representatives is a master class in how not to negotiate.   He became what New York Times columnist Paul Krugman calls “speaker in name only” after fifteen ballots over five days.  Election of a speaker normally is a routine event, and this was the first time a speaker was not elected on the first ballot in the last 100 years.
The botched negotiations not only weakened Mr. McCarthy but, paradoxically, they also may weaken the Republican rebels who repeatedly extracted concessions from him.
What did Mr. McCarthy do
Continue Reading How Not to Negotiate

Forrest (Woody) Mosten, Elizabeth Potter Scully, and Lara Traum’s book, Effectively Representing Clients in Family Mediation, was just published by the ABA.  This is particularly valuable because many parties rely on lawyers to represent them in mediation, and there probably are many more lawyers who act as advocates in mediation than those who mediate.
The book describes family lawyers as dispute resolution managers. It discusses representing clients in court-ordered and online mediations, unbundling, using a collaborative lawyering approach, and setting up mediations, among other topics.  Peacemaking is the heart of Woody’s philosophy, and the book includes a chapter on
Continue Reading New Book on Effectively Representing Clients in Family Mediation

Noam Ebner (Creighton) and I are delighted to announce (1) our new co-edited book, Star Wars and Conflict Resolution; and (2) the CfP for the sequel (tentative title: Episode II)!
From the Introduction:
“Never upset a Wookiee.” “Be mindful of your thoughts.” “Surrender is sometimes a perfectly reasonable option. “Failure to listen may lead to war.”
These are only some of the lessons about conflict and conflict resolution from the Star Warssaga. Conflict is everywhere in Star Wars, from big-picture hostilities (the droid army v. the clones, the Empire v. the Rebels, the First Order v. the Resistance) to
Continue Reading Star Wars and Conflict Resolution

Improving mediation quality is tricky.  This post describes how the Real Mediation Systems Project can help.
In Principles for Policymaking about Collaborative Law and Other ADR Processes, I argued that policymakers generally should consider non-regulatory policy options before adopting new rules.
Non-regulatory approaches include training for disputants and professionals, dispute referral mechanisms, technical assistance for ADR organizations, and grievance mechanisms for parties in ADR processes.
Of course, some regulation of ADR is appropriate such as rules governing use of ADR communications in court, regulation of the relationship between ADR processes and the courts, and protection of dispute resolution consumers. 
Continue Reading How The Real Mediation Systems Project Can Help Improve Mediation Quality

I am doing a research study entitled “Assessment of Real Practice Systems Experience” to assess how well Real Practice Systems assignments and exercises have worked in courses, trainings, and continuing education programs as well as for individual practitioners.  I’m writing to invite you to participate in this study.
In this document, I describe how faculty might use this project.  You might assign students to read publications in this project and/or write papers.  The post includes templates of assignments that you can tailor to fit your educational goals.
Publications in this project are collected in this blog post.  You
Continue Reading Would You Like to Get the Benefit of the Real Practice Systems Project and Share Your Experiences?

From FOI Peter Reilly (Texas A&M), a round-up of recent scholarly projects from ADR profs:
Ava Abramowitz (GW Law) and Ken Webb (Kenn Webb Consulting, LLC)
Planned Research:  Our research builds on Neil Rackham’s and John Carlisle’s 1978 paper “The Behaviour of Successful Negotiators” (which can be found here). We asked ourselves, can the same research methodology be applied to mediation?
 The answer is “yes” and “no.” Yes, because if we can get access to live mediations, we can code all the participants’ communication behaviors. Fortunately, Doug Van Epps, the head of Michigan Court’s Dispute Resolution Office, allowed us
Continue Reading ADR Scholarship Projects (Jan. 2023 edition)

I developed a variety of assignments that faculty can use to help students better understand mediation, advocacy in mediation, negotiation, or other regular procedures.
The assignments grow out of my forthcoming article, Real Mediation Systems to Help Parties and Mediators Achieve Their Goals in the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution.
You might assign students to read publications in this project and/or write papers.  This post includes templates of assignments that you can tailor to fit your educational goals.
Publications in this project are collected in this blog post.  You might particularly assign students to read “Ten Real Mediation Systems”
Continue Reading More Ways to Help Students Understand Dispute Resolution Practice

My post, The Critical Importance of Pre-Session Preparation in Mediation, really resonated for some people.
Clearly, pre-session preparation can help everyone involved in mediation to improve the process and outcomes.  Many mediators and mediation programs routinely incorporate robust pre-session procedures in their mediation systems.
Roselle Wissler and Art Hinshaw’s empirical study provides some good news and bad news about mediators’ use of pre-session preparation. Many mediators do use such processes, particularly in civil cases, but some don’t.  In their study, 66% of mediators in civil cases held pre-session discussions about non-administrative matters with the parties and/or their lawyers in
Continue Reading Seeking Resources to Promote Pre-Session Preparation in Mediation

This post collects and summarizes the posts in the Real Mediation Systems Project series.
They grow out of my forthcoming article in the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution, Real Mediation Systems to Help Parties and Mediators Achieve Their Goals, a draft of which now is available online.
Houston, We Have a Problem in the Dispute Resolution Field:  We use basic terms that are oversimplified and confusing – terms that even dispute resolution experts don’t properly understand.
Shifting the Central Paradigm to Dispute System Design:  Instead of identifying our field as ADR, we should use dispute system design
Continue Reading Real Mediation Systems Project Series

It’s indisputable that preparation before mediation sessions is very important – both for the participants and the mediators.  This can make a huge difference in the process and outcome.
Parties (and their lawyers, if any) need to be prepared to discuss the facts, law, interests, and/or negotiation approaches etc.  This is hard enough when they are well prepared.  It is so much harder when they are not.  By the same token, mediators can perform much better when they prepare before mediation sessions.
This short article discusses three issues.  First, why pre-session preparation is so important.  Second, why we should use
Continue Reading The Critical Importance of Pre-Session Preparation in Mediation

This post describes how mediators can use ideas and materials from the Real Mediation Systems Project to better understand and improve their own mediation approaches.  Trainers and mediation program administrators can use this to help mediators in their programs.
I suggest that mediators first complete each section below with bullet points summarizing their ideas, going through the entire assignment.  After that, they might go back and flesh out their discussions, writing full paragraphs.
I suggest starting with bullet points so that people don’t get bogged down in the beginning and run out of steam before they get to the end. 
Continue Reading Using Real Mediation Systems Resources in Practice

I described the real mediation systems of ten mediators in this recent post.
This post describes how faculty can use ideas and materials from the Real Mediation Systems Project to help students get realistic understandings of practice.
Of course, faculty can use this project by assigning students to read the short article linked in that post, possibly assigning students to read particular mediators’ systems.
Although the project generally focuses on the systems that mediators develop and use, it can be adapted for students to understand the perspectives of lawyers acting as advocates in mediation, negotiators, and legal practice generally,
Continue Reading Resources for Using Real Systems Materials in Teaching

I don’t fear death.  I do fear dying, however.
Modern medicine can perform seeming miracles in some situations.  But it also can ensnare patients in a tangle of cords, tubes, machines, personnel with varying degrees of sympathy and helpfulness, rigid procedures and schedules, being jabbed by sharp needles, sounds, lights, sleep disruptions, disturbances, loss of privacy and control, insurance issues, hospital food, and lots of other things that make life a living hell.
My feelings were reinforced by a recent experience with one of my wife’s relatives who is terminally ill with cancer.  We visited him in the hospital and
Continue Reading Suggestions for Dying